Should I Choose My Old Flame Over My Safe Boyfriend?

Should I Choose My Old Flame Over My Safe Boyfriend?

Evan, I’ve been involved with Ken for two years. I met him through friends. He isn’t exactly who I envisioned and we’ve had some tough challenges along the way. I think he’s handsome, and I know he’s ethical, devoted and loves me totally. I love him too but my physical attraction to him has never been strong.

I took a break from him when my Mom died and went back to my hometown. I was praying to my Mom and God to help me to know the way. And then standing at the foot of the lake I met Jim from my High School. It was instant attraction for both of us. We have much in common and there is a sense of joy I’ve not known before. Here’s the catch. Jim had a long affair while he was married which he told me without prompting.

I got scared and Ken kept working to win me back. What I have with Ken is very good. He’s a great friend, I like him and we have things in common too. But I still think of Jim and I know he thinks of me.

I don’t want to throw something away with Ken and have regret. Jim feels we’re meant for each other and his family and friends do too. How do I come to what’s best for everyone?

I would love your insight very much. It’s been thrilling to see your success.

Warm Regards,
Patty

Dear Patty,

My heart breaks for you, darling.

You lost your Mom and your head is reeling.

You’re praying to God for dating advice.

You’re thinking of giving up your ethical devoted boyfriend for a man who is a proven cheater.

And if that wasn’t enough, you’re asking to “come to what’s best for everyone.”

The only person who decides what’s best for you is YOU. Got it?

Really, you’re making this way harder on yourself than you have to.

Let’s work backwards.

His family and friends think it’s best if you’re with High School Cheater Jim. Fuck them. They don’t have a vote.

Neither does High School Cheater Jim or Devoted Ken. They want what’s best for them, not what’s best for you.

The only person who decides what’s best for you is YOU. Got it?

Everyone else’s opinions are irrelevant. Yes, including my own.

But that’s not gonna stop me, of course.

Now, let’s understand that there are exceptions to every rule and aphorism out there. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t truth to be found in: “When someone shows you who he is, believe him.” And “One in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Jim has shown you who he is. He’s an admitted cheater and borderline homewrecker who is trying to leverage the weight of his family and friends to convince you to leave your relationship.

You want to willfully ignore all this because you feel more attraction towards him.

Next…

You HAVE a man who is husband-worthy. How do I know this when I’ve never even met him? It’s because you’ve chosen to date him for two years – and most women aren’t big on wasting time on men who don’t have husband potential. You’ve described him as “handsome, ethical, devoted and loves me totally.” And you wrote: “What I have with Ken is very good. He’s a great friend, I like him and we have things in common too.”

And you’re willing to throw that all away for the wild-card that is Jim.

I know: the heart wants what the heart wants.

But does the heart really know what it’s doing? And is it actually the heart that’s making your decisions for you? I’m betting it’s not.

Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice”, spoke to Lori Gottlieb when she was writing “Marry Him” .

He put things in a very plainspoken way that I’d like to paraphrase for you, Patty.

I know: the heart wants what the heart wants. But does the heart really know what it’s doing? And is it actually the heart that’s making your decisions for you?

Basically, he said, we have to make choices with tradeoffs. When you find an amazing guy, like Ken, who may be an 8 on a 1-10 scale, you think of him as marriage material. But then, after a few years, you get accustomed to him. You see his flaws. He becomes more predictable and less exciting. Suddenly, your feelings drop from an 8 to a 6.

You start telling yourself that you could do better. And along comes a guy like Jim. Your attraction to him makes him feel like a 10.

You make your decision. You’re going to toss out your 8 (who turned into a 6) for an exciting, passionate 10.

Congratulations!

What you haven’t calculated is this:

Your “10” is going to have his own set of issues, which you may or may not be able to deal with on a daily basis. Attraction is not a solid foundation for a long-term relationship. Good communication and shared values is a much better predictor of success.

So you may be thrilled to get that extra rush of dopamine that comes from your initial attraction to Ken, but one day, that feeling is going to subside – for both of you.

Alas, your 10 will magically morph into a 6 as well. You may be able to put up with his issues (anger, jealousy, bossy, stubborn, busy?) but Jim may decide that, after a few years of marriage to you, that he’d like to find a 10 that he’s more passionate about.

That’s right. Even if your feelings for Jim stay strong, there will always be an undercurrent of fear in your relationship.

It would be like being in the witness protection program; all you can do is hope that the status quo continues to hold. You pray that the cheater has really retired from cheating, even though you have no control over his actions.

So, to bring it on home, when thinking of building a 40-year relationship, you’d better ask who is the safer bet.

Is it the ethical, devoted guy? Or the cheater?

I don’t judge you for choosing the cheater.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if I got another email from you in 5 years either.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Fawn

    This is very similar to something I went through.  I was having a relationship with my “high school” boyfriend – also an admitted cheater.  He ended up going back to his ex-girl friend after we dated for almost a years when she decided she wanted him back (after he cheated on her).  He also admittedly cheated on his wife for many years.  A year later I meet my husband.  He is sweet, giving, we have the same values and interests.  He treats me like a princess.  We date for 2 1/2 years and then get engaged.  When ex high school boyfriend finds out he decides he doesn’t want to be with ex girlfriend anymore and wants me back.  Ex high school boyfriend and I always had very good chemistry and for a split second I wondered if I was making a mistake with current husband – but that was as long as it lasted – a split second.  I realized very quickly that my boyfriend (now my husband) was the one I should stick with.  It was definitely the right choice.  I knew that what I had with ex-boyfriend was all chemical based.  He had a way of making anyone feel really good.  But you know, I soon realized it may not last long and he had a history of cheating so I made the best decision I could for me.  It was the right decision. 

  2. 2
    Julia

    solid advice. Its normal to seek greener pastures when we are faced with potentially spending the rest of our lives with someone, hopefully sense will prevail over lust.

  3. 3
    Hope

    Evan, you hit the ball out of the park with this post. Excellent post. I would have given the exact same advice. I honestly believe that to follow attraction in this case will lead the disaster. You bring up a really valid point when you mention this guy is leveraging his family and friends to get the woman to leave her relationship. In all honesty, I don’t think I could be with a guy if he wanted me to leave a perfectly healthy relationship for the sake of attraction, which is also going to eventually fade just as it has with Guy A. And like Evan said, who is to say this Guy B won’t find a woman he’s more attracted to, especially since he has a history of cheating and is also trying to break up this woman’s relationship. If somebody puts such a high empahsis on attraction they are always going to be disappointed. You will always find someone else you’re more attracted to. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. I have watched plenty of folks I have known throughout the years who followed attraction and its whims, and not only did they end up hurting a lot of people, but ended up hurting themselves too.

    And let’s face it, even if you find the most perfect partner for you there will come a point in your relationship with him that you won’t feel that same attraction that you did in the beginning. It’s not just a matter of “if”, it’s “when.” It’s part of being in a long term relationship. I’m sure this “husband material” guy can name things that he doesn’t find so attractive about this woman too. Relationships are hard work. And if someone really wants that awesome relationship they need to be willing to keep up the hard work, even when they don’t feel like it. Otherwise you will always be jumping ship for someone else and wondering why you’re alone.  

  4. 4
    nathan

    I’m not convinced that playing it safe is a good strategy here. Nor is hyper risk taking. The way I see it, from how she writes about her boyfriend and the circumstances around the high school flame, neither are excellent options. We don’t know the nature of the problems that have happened historically with the boyfriend, but the OP’s comments about him are strained. She’s trying to show his good points, but the way she talks about him doesn’t sound like a woman who’s interested enough in him for the long haul. Chasing the old flame is simply flipping to the opposite side of the coin. She’s tossing worries about having to muster enough interest for a man who may not have the skills to maintain anything long term. It’s a common pattern. Leaving stable, but ultimately lacking relationships for what end up being extended flings filled with passion, followed by messy break ups when reality returns.
     
    At the end of the day, Patty needs to decide if she really can envision a life with the boyfriend, or if she’s just keeping him around because he sounds good on paper. To me, that relationship is the lynchpin. Decide now to truly stick it out, or to leave on good terms. The other guy can wait.

  5. 5
    Angie

    Evan, I think there are a lot of women willing to “waste time” on someone for two years, depending on their age.  If the OP is 27, sure.  Especially with the attraction thing.  (I wouldn’t assume that because someone is divorced, they necessarily had a long marriage or are older.  My cousin was a 27-year-old divorce, I graduated high school with a girl who has been divorced twice and has a baby with a third guy, and we are 30).

    OP, Evan is right.  You are the only one who should make this call. 

    You know, at the end of the day, this attraction to Jim may just really be an wake-up call that you should be evaluating your role in both relationships.  Maybe you should sort of meditate on “What is Jim’s purpose in my life? What is he here to show me?” as opposed to “Who do I pick?”  Also, Jim’s determination that you are “meant to be” is a bit dramatic. 

    I don’t think “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” but I do think everything is circumstantial and the fact that he had a LONG, ongoing affair while married is the bigger tip-off.  Post-divorcees as well as people in grief, such as your self, are emotionally wide open.  You may very well be the passionate rebound that Jim was seeking.

    Either way, a co-worker of mine is taking a human sexuality class and told me about the different “Love Styles”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_styles 

    I think this is relevant to this letter, and also to many people who read this blog, because we may very well be “Eros” (passionate/romantic) but it feels like we are being forced to be “Pragma” (driven by the head/marriage as a business transaction).  I honestly think that attraction is necessary and if there is NO physical chemistry at all, you are always going to be longing for that.  Maybe I’m over-reading into this, but a lifetime of bad sex isn’t something I’d want to sign up for. But a lifetime of deep passion isn’t totally necessary either.  I kind of think the best option is (c) an individual who you are attracted to, that is also kind and devoted.  If you AREN’T attracted to Ken, not one bit, it is a chore to have sex with him instead of something you look forward to, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by lying to yourself.

  6. 6
    Maya

    Great advice, but somehow agree with Nathan’s comment. Just seems like none of the guys would be IT. That’s just how it seems from afar. 
    Good luck to the OP. Hope she finds the right way for her.

  7. 7
    Angie

    PS One more thing I’ve learned regarding regret:

    Patience is also a virtue.  Because you walked away, and a few days later, a new option popped in, that doesn’t make it THE other option.  It makes it AN other option.  Rarely is the next thing we encounter, the best option.  (“Rebound” is a well-known thing for a reason).

    You really haven’t, at the core, decided upon what it is you need in a relationship.  If you did, you could communicate it to Ken or would have left him after a couple months knowing it is “going nowhere”.  I’ve met wonderful Ken types who I felt zero attraction to.  We lasted a month or so, because I didn’t enjoy kissing them.  If you ever had physical chemistry with Ken, maybe you can find that, but it isn’t looking that way.

  8. 8
    Jenna

    I’m not sure she should be with either guy. Though you can’t maintain the initial feeling about a guy at the same level years in, you should still feel excited about your guy and feel lucky to have him if he’s a marriage prospect. 

  9. 9
    Allison

    I agree with Nathan– she doesn’t sound thrilled enough about Ken, and meeting Jim just highlights what’s missing for her in the relationship.  Patty, first forget about Jim and evaluate your relationship with Ken.  Stay with him or leave him independent of Jim.  You don’t have to stay with him just because he loves you and has objectively good qualities– stay with him if you love him and can see a future with him (don’t end up like the OP from a few weeks ago who ignored the issues and ended up in a bad marriage!).  Then, if you leave, you can think about Jim, who at this point seems like hardly more than a fantasy.  

  10. 10
    helene

    I agree- the fact that the old flame is distracting her from her 2 year relationship doesn’t mean the high school guy is right for her, but it does mean that Ken may NOT be right for her. If she’s so easily distracted, how much in love with Ken can she really be? 2 years is not THAT long to have been with someone for passion to fade – a lot of couples are still super-loved-up at that point. The only important decision here is whether she wants to be with Ken or not – Jim is an irrelevance. She needs to take a decision about Ken WITHOUT assuming Jim is going to be there if she leaves. he may be – he may not be. Each of these things is a separate decision.

  11. 11
    Amy

    The fact that Patty says “my physical attraction to him has never been strong”. is a huge red flag. Attraction is not the only thing between people but it is important and is the basis/foundation for many other things that follow in any relationship, like mental and emotional attraction. I don’t think high school cheater Jim is the right option but her current boyfriend might not be either. Five years into a marriage with him and she could be the one having an affair. Think about it Evan, and other readers out there, what if your significant other admitted to you that their physical attraction to you had never been strong. OUCH! That would be a pretty big blow.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      All the folks who see this as a sign to dump the devoted boyfriend, Ken, please read this latest New York Times article, which reiterates everything that I’ve ever said here.

      Eventually, all love turns into companionship. It takes a smart and strong couple to keep things interesting when you have, by nature, a stable and predictable life together. The problems are that: most couples are not smart and strong. They don’t understand that it’s virtually impossible to be EXCITED by someone after 2 years. It’s appreciation. It’s comfort. It’s friendship. It’s laughter. And yes, it can be great sex, too, but, as always, that’s an activity that a couple needs to communicate about. Someone can become better in bed if it means pleasing his wife sexually and rejuvenating a marriage. It’s a much more achievable goal than turning a cheater into a loyal man.

      So when I hear the OP say only this, “I think he’s handsome, and I know he’s ethical, devoted and loves me totally. I love him too but my physical attraction to him has never been strong,” and your first conclusion is that she should DUMP this man? You’re only indicating that you think that it would be a better bet for her to try to find another handsome, ethical, loving, devoted boyfriend who has just a little more OOMPH. Sorry, my friends, but that’s bad advice.

      And if you don’t believe your happily married dating coach, perhaps you can believe all the scientists who have informed my opinion: marriage isn’t a passionfest. You don’t get excited about your “new” car after five years and you’re not gonna get excited by your spouse in five years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing marriage with a good sex life if you work at communicating and keeping things lively.

      1. 11.1.1
        Andy

        To say that these people’s opinions are wrong for having lived through their own experiences is not very responsible from a person in a position of giving advise. Just because you yourself are in a positive relationship doesn’t make it exact.

        In my experience, choosing the ‘safe’ route doesn’t always work. After 15 years choosing the ‘safe’ partner over the ‘passionate’ partner led to disaster. Who’s to say what circumstances arise? Every relationship is different. They bend, form, change and it is dependant on SO many things that to make a blank statement that anyone who thinks this woman should leave the ‘safe’ choice is BAD advice, is irresponsible.

        It doesn’t matter how long a relationship it is. Everyone moves at a different pace. Instead maybe look at what’s causing the confusion. There is no doubt a root cause. None of us want to make the wrong or a bad choice when choosing the person we want to spend our lives with. I think it might just be a decision on what we are willing to compromise to make a relationship flourish. It definitely sounds like she has doubts about both of these men. If she has doubts at this stage, that’s something to address don’t you think?

        You’re absolutely right that she needs to make a decision on what’s best for HER and not anyone else, but then you criticise those who may suggest that she chooses neither of these men and infer that she should stay with her boyfriend. That’s contradicting and not very helpful on helping her determine why she is having these doubts to begin with. If you read through her statements, maybe she is indicating that although Ken has all of these amazing qualities, she is just not into him as much as she ‘should’ be and that is why she is confused. Don’t know, just a thought??

        This is just my OPINION and she really should find out why she is having doubts. Even though Ken might be an amazing man, he might just not be quite a perfect fit for her. Two years is probably right timing to start realising certain aspects of a relationship and make decisions based on that.

        Again, just my opinion.

  12. 12
    Hope

    Maybe neither guy is it But that brings up another good question. What is she really seeking in a relationship? I ask this because the OP said with the high school boyfriend she felt joy for the first time. I think some good soul searching might be in order because if you’re looking for another person to be your source of happiness you will always end up disappointed with others. Maybe neither guy is right for her. But are the guys the true issue, or is something else going on within the OP that she needs to sort for herself before trying to get into another relationship? If you can’t feel joy and excitment on your own then you’ll constantly searching for it with someone else, and the search will never end.

  13. 13
    Joe

    Sounds to me like her being with Ken was basically a bit of “I’ll bide my time with him until someone better comes along”, from the get-go, if she wasn’t really that attracted to him from the start.

  14. 14
    Sunflower

    I love it when Evan drops the “f” bomb! 

  15. 15
    Paula

    Patty, you sound like you are ‘chasing a feeling’ with the old school sweetheard Jim. Cheaters will be cheaters and liars will be liars. Jim has already admitted to cheating and one can almost guarantee it won’t be the last with guys who do this sort of thing. You know leopards don’t change their spots and it’s a big red flag waving there so step back and have a really good think about what is really happening here.
    He’s already told he who he is – a cheater – so listen up. 
    You won’t be the exception to his rule once ‘that feeling’ has worn off and life gets real, the kids are screaming, bills have to be paid and you’re cleaning the toilet yet again. Thats what real life is Patty but if you have a good guy who sticks by you, loves you and supports you without bailing out into some other womans bed when real life hits you’ve got a good man.

     

  16. 16
    Angie

    @ Evan 15

    I do agree with your point.  But there is also a difference between basic attraction and passion/lust etc.  It’s not about a “little more OOMPH”, it’s about actually wanting any sort of intimate interaction with that person (and maybe the OP is young or inexperienced, and hasn’t developed that physical side of herself fully, and meeting Jim made her realize this).

    At the end of the day, if you aren’t attracted to someone but they are loyal, devoted, caring and objectively good-looking, they are your friend and that’s all. I don’t know how the OP is supposed to find attraction if it never existed.  Lack of attraction isn’t some random “flaw” like “He listens to bad music”… Lack of attraction is like telling a gay man to marry a woman (in the most extreme of circumstances).  Sure, he can be happy and meet all his goals for a marriage, but over the course of a lifetime, if you don’t want to have sex with someone it is entirely different from the passion has died out, etc.

    But only the OP knows which is the true case.

  17. 17
    marymary

    I agree with evan at 15.
    Intense physical attraction is a trick of nature, memory, pheromones, DNA. It tells you nothing about whether the person is good prospect for a relationship. It doesn’t even mean the sex will be that great because when you stop marvelling over the attraction you might even realise that the sex is just… okay, if that.
    by all means admire the view and feel the butterflies but sometimes you just gotta step away from the light.
    i do find my boyfriend physically attractive but it,s mellow and comfortable, not fireworks. he finds me attractive but it doesnt seem to be the most important thing to him. We just get on and enjoy each other,s company.
    I guess I have the dubious advantage of having experienced the fireworks and  saw it all turn to garbage. I know it means nothing.  
    For the OP, i know the new guy isn,t right and I,m not sure about the current one either. It sounds too rocky.   

  18. 18
    Some other Steve

    I think Evan is being generous to Jim by suggesting that he’ll drop only to a 6.

  19. 19
    maria

    This is such an excellent post! I love you when Evan is real and cusses! :)

    Also, what I have noticed is when a woman moves on and finds a new man, especially a FIANCE, the ex comes running back EVEN WHEN HE REALLY DOESNT EVEN WANT HER. He is being competitive.

    I say you WILL regret it if you leave.  

  20. 20
    Dagaz

    Frankly speaking, if OP trying to choose between two men – she doesn’t love either of them. And none of them is “right” for her, alas.
    If she would love, the question simply wouldn’t appear in her head at all.

  21. 21
    Dina

    Evan, if you weren’t Jewish, I would swear you were the patron saint of dating.  Thank you for telling us girls like it really is.  You’re like the big brother I never had.  This is great advice!  Thanks.

  22. 22
    starthrower68

    If you don’t believe Evan, John Grey (Venus vs. Mars) backs him up.  He advises a woman who feels that intense physical chemistry immediately to run the other way because she’s idealizing the guy.  Seems to me that is exactly what’s happening here, having done it more times than I care to admit.  We live in a culture where we hardly know what “normal” is; we think excess is the norm so it should come as no surprise that we mistake that intense, heady rush for love.  It lacks depth, however.  Any of the reading I have done validates what Evan says here.  I am also a fan of Cloud & Townsend’s books “Boundaries in Dating” and “How To Find A Date Worth Keeping”.

  23. 23
    Denise

    #17 & #4, I agree with both your posts.  There are three things that must be in every relationship, or the relationship will suffer.  Physical/sexual attraction (which is not the act of sex, and it isn’t lust), friendship, commitment/shared values & beliefs.  Rationalizing isn’t very romantic or lasting…

  24. 24
    Gina

    I think that the OP should send Ken over to me. I am looking for guy like him. I don’t need fireworks a.k.a., “The Big Bang.” I was in a relationship in which I was the female version of Ken. When I found out that the guy whom I had been dating for 14 months felt more passionately about an ex who dumped him, and had secretly been talking to her behind my back, I walked away. He admitted that he was chasing a feeling, and when he could not get back with the ex- girlfriend, he ended up marrying someone else after knowing her for only 10 months. I wish the OP good luck with whatever decision she makes.

  25. 25
    Jane

    I made the wrong choice once, and I’ve regretted it every single day since. I threw away my stable, loving, boring, not-so-sexy relationship for a cheating, emotionally abusive guy (who was actually named Jim) because I wanted to feel passion again. I craved it. I became obsessed with it. What I should have done instead was to ask my boyfriend of many years–the best man I’ve ever met–to seek counseling with me. To unearth what connection had come unplugged in our relationship that made sex seem so disconnected. If I’d done that, I’d never have heard of Evan Marc Katz, and I’d have the life that I want, the husband that I want, the kids that I want. Please don’t do it, honey. Instead, turn to Ken and dig deeper. I have a hunch it’ll be worth it. And if it isn’t, then go forth and find someone who’s strong and honorable enough to not solve his relationship problems with cheating.

  26. 26
    Androgynous

    Evan at #15. Yes, what you say is absolutely correct. However, it seems to me that the issue here is getting Patty to realise it. Processing this information at an intellectual level is one thing, actually feeling the pain of not having someone, or losing someone who provides the warmth, comforts and care of a strong, enduring relationship is another.
    She should just take a break from men for a while – especially with her mother gone her mind may be all muddled. Using her grief over her lost mother may be the perfect excuse to take a break from Ken (and Jim). If she finds she misses Ken terribly after a while, then she has answered her own question. On the other hand, if she feels free and liberated, that’s an indication that Ken is not right for her, and never was.
    Sometimes people have to learn the hard way. Knowing things at an intellectual level does not always inform me about the correct choices they need to make for themselves. Sometimes the Pattys of this world need to lose their Kens and get used and abused by the Jims  in order to truly truly appreciate the value of the kind of relationship Evan talks about.

  27. 27
    Androgynous

    ……Sometimes people have to learn the hard way. Knowing things at an intellectual level does not always inform me about the correct choices they need to make for themselves.
     
    Sorry I meant to say “does not always inform them about the correct choices they need to make for themselves

  28. 28
    Joe

    IMO there’s a huge difference between “impossible to be excited by someone after 2 years” and “my physical attraction to him has never been strong.”  The former implies that there was an initial thrill that’s faded (to whatever degree); the latter suggests there never was a thrill to begin with.

  29. 29
    Hope

    Gina (comment #25) I have to agree with yu in a big way. I was thinking the same thing when I read this blog post. Why doesn’t the OP send Ken my way. There are plenty of women out there who are looking for the stable, loyal, kind guy. Passion is great. But I don’t expect firworks to be forever. I still stand by what I said that the OP needs to look within herself and figure out why she is relying on a man to be her source of joy and excitment. Until you figure out how to be happy with yourself you’re never going to be happy in a relationship. You’ll always be moving from one relationship to another. Nobody else has the power, time, or energy to constantly sustain and be responsible for someone else’s sense of worth, joy, and excitment.

      Like Gina (comment #25) I was also a female version of Ken and had a guy leave me for “Miss Exciting.” But Miss Exciting also turned out to have a whole ton of issues, lied about being divorced, used sex as a weapon, and when she didn’t get what she wanted she would resort to blackmail and harrassment. She also ended up being a major Golddigger and was constantly cheating on him. And here was my ex, wondering why Miss Exciting suddenly changed from loving and exciting to scary and crazy. She didn’t change, she just let her real self out. And there were tons of red flag warnings in the beginning that he failed to see because he was so caught up in lust. Now my ex has no one. He threw his relationship with me out. Miss Exciting dumped him as soon as he stopped giving her money and she found someone with more money than him. And now his family doesn’t trust him because of what Miss Exciting put them through. There’s a very high price to be paid if all you seek is excitment and passion. And people think it won’t happen to them. It can.

  30. 30
    Karl R

    Patty said: (original post)
    “How do I come to what’s best for everyone?”

    You sound like a people-pleaser. It’s more reasonable to assume that there is no solution that’s best for everyone. Find the solution that’s best for you in the long run.

    Patty said: (original post)
    “we’ve had some tough challenges along the way.”
    “I took a break from him when my Mom died and went back to my hometown.”
    “I was praying to my Mom and God to help me to know the way.”

    I’m not sure what “tough challenges” involve (since it’s possible that it might include some behavior I’d consider unacceptable). But it sounds like you were contemplating dumping Ken even when Jim wasn’t in the picture.

    Why?

    I don’t think it’s healthy/sane to look at this as a choice between Ken and Jim (because Jim seems like an overwhelmingly poor choice … unless you want to live out the lyrics of a country-western song).  Let’s go back to the original question you were asking God and your mother about: should you keep or dump Ken.

    Either there’s something wrong with Ken, or there’s something wrong with the relationship between you two, or there’s something wrong with the expectations you have toward Ken and your relationship. Based on what you said so far, it sounds like the problem is in your expectations (which means it’s going to come back to haunt you in all of your relationships until you address it), but it’s possible there’s a problem with the relationship that you just haven’t mentioned.

    Jim’s a distraction. Find the problem; then maybe the answer will become more obvious.

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